Does starting college at a community college hurt the student?

According to Inside Higher Ed, it does. The article, though, seems to be saying that there is a significant penalty, but maybe less of a penalty for someone who is “serious” about getting their bachelor’s.

I hope I haven’t hurt my son’s chances of getting into a 4-year school with this.

[A recent study]found a significant “penalty,” or decreased likelihood of completing a degree, for students who started out in community colleges compared to those who started at four-year institutions.

Although it conflicts with some efforts to expand access to higher education, the implication is that students with the desire to earn a four-year degree would be better off if they started out at four-year colleges rather than trying to transfer out of a community college.

But separating the students with a “demonstrated intent” of graduating with a four-year degree solves the apples-and-oranges problem of comparing students from different types of institutions. While the results still show a penalty for community college students, it’s smaller than it otherwise would be and suggests possible solutions.

“I think what we’re trying to say … in the paper [is that] a lot of policy is putting a lot of pressure on the community colleges, and they already are not really supported financially. In comparison to their four-year counterparts, they receive a lot less money,” Long said. So, rather than arguing that students who would otherwise have started at community colleges should be siphoned off to four-year colleges instead, she said it was important to improve support and make it easier for students to transfer.